Making a change

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Editorial | 21 Comments

As you’ve probably gathered, I love beer; but it wasn’t my first infatuation. Actually, that was the sea, and all the creatures it contained. When I was young, my weekly treat was being allowed to stay up late to watch The Living Planet, the follow up to the first of Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Life’ series, Life on Earth. Back in 1984, nature documentaries weren’t on television all the time – it was long before channels such as Discovery and Eden existed on our fibre-optic, multiply HD–channelled, on-demand televisions. Once a week, Sir David – the UK’s greatest living treasure – brought the natural world to life, by becoming a part of it, being there on location and explaining what was going on, as it surrounded him.

I was entranced, right from the start. All of it was mesmerising to me, these creatures that lived in forests, plains and at the poles. But it was the oceans that really, really, fascinated me. The idea that all of these incredible creatures were there, all the time, just under the surface of the sea. I still remember an episode with Sir David lying on a dune at night, inches from a Leatherback Turtle laying eggs. As a result of scenes like this from The Living Planet, I began reading kid’s books about whales, dolphins, sharks, and any other marine life I could get hold of. From a very early age, directly because of watching this television series, I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist. That was my dream job.

Fast-forward many years, and after having worked through school and college with that aim in mind, I completed a degree in Marine Biology from the University of Stirling. It was whilst there, at the (long since modernised) student bar, that I tried my first ever non-lager beer (McEwans 70/-). We used to sit on the sticky carpet and drink sub-£2 pints of 70/-, not daring to go into the ‘Alehouse’ bar, as that was where the mature students went to smoke rollups and drink beer with names we didn’t understand. Well, not that I understood the shilling system, either. Anyway, I started to think more about beer, as a result – what I was drinking, and why. Those little green bottles of Mickey’s lager just didn’t taste the same, once I’d forced myself to try an alternative.

Once I’d left, I struggled to find work in what was a very small field. There’s a longstanding dilemma: which situation is worse; not knowing what you want to do with your life, or knowing exactly, and not being able to do it? For me, it was obviously the latter. Studying for a Masters’ degree, I ended up briefly working in a marine research station on Humberside; my job was, literally, to count worms. That was it – well, aside from the days when we’d have to gloop around in the acrid-smelling mud of Grimsby docks, digging up more samples to take back and sift through. A long way from the Barrier Reef. I left, got a non-biology temp job in Edinburgh, and was quickly offered a full-time role, which I took. I’ve now been with the same organisation for fourteen years.

But no more. At the same time, I’d managed to work on that slight interest in beer, writing and blogging about what it tasted like, then who was making it, and now pretty much anything to do with the industry. Looking back, I guess I was very lucky to start developing that enthusiasm at roughly the same time as a huge upturn in British brewing (this would be 2007). After we experimented with podcasts – and recorded 71 that hardly anyone listened to – I just started to concentrate on what was going on in Scotland, with the burgeoning brewing scene here, north of the border. One name that stood out then, of course, was BrewDog – and due to their antics, I ended up writing about them a considerable amount.

Alongside the BeerCast, for some time now I’ve written on a contractual basis, freelancing for publications and the like. As you can imagine, I have found that the more writing I’ve done, the more I’ve enjoyed it – to the point where it has ceased becoming a secondary career, and become something I know I want to become involved with directly. So, that is what I’m doing. Since the start of the year, one of my long-standing contracts has been with the aforementioned BrewDog, writing posts on their website, pieces for Hop Propaganda, label copy etc. After discussion with James Watt, we have come to an arrangement to make that contract a permanent one; next Monday I’ll have worked my notice on the day job, and will be starting my new career with BrewDog.

There are several reasons for this; a chance to work within the industry, as I said – earning my salary from writing about beer. Also, of course, it’s working for BrewDog, an energised company and group of people I know very well, and feel I can make a difference with. With that in mind, I should say at this point that the BeerCast won’t change; James and the team are perfectly happy for me to carry on writing the blog, as I do now. After all, I’ve made it this far combining the blog with a day job of higher priority – so I can use what I’ve learned over the last eight years to continue in the same vein, only now, those veins will be closer (not a great metaphor, I know).

But the most important reason for making this change is the point I’ve laboured through to get this far, of course; it’s only when I fully considered the implications of the decision that I realised I’ve never actually had a job I liked before. Sure; I’ve been lucky and also never had one that I hated, or made me stressed, but getting up and going to work has been something I just did, to earn money and go from there. The excitement I got was from writing, meeting people in the beer industry, and talking to those who enjoy their products. And that is exactly what I’ll be doing now; only for BrewDog, as well as with the BeerCast.

Apologies for writing such a long and self-involved post, but this is one I’ve wanted to write since, well, 1984.


  1. Pat Hanson
    October 27, 2014

    You must be dead excited! Best of luck with the new job – I look forward to reading more of your stuff via BrewDog blog and other media. If it weren’t so early in the morning I’d raise a glass of Cocoa Psycho…..

  2. James Wrobel
    October 27, 2014

    Well bloody done,

    A lovely cheering post to read just before I head to work.
    One of James Watts little heralded talents is his ability to surround himself with really taented collaberators. Despite brewing some stunning beers I always thought their copy let the side down, with you on board their beers should read as good as they taste.
    Best of luck with the new job & I hope it leaves you with enough time to start your book.
    ( I know it’s what you want to do-everyone else is )

  3. Tom Hogg
    October 27, 2014

    Everyone’s jealous, but few will admit it 😉 Me? I’d love to get a job in football, but coaching Oxgangs Primary P7 team is probably not quite good enough for that.

  4. Chris
    October 27, 2014

    Nothing more enjoyable than feeling like you’re never really at work. I felt the same when I jacked my PhD and joined BrewDog and I still feel the same now.


  5. Chris Hall
    October 27, 2014

    Congratulations mate, I’m glad it’s gone permanent. Very well-deserved and I’m glad to see more breweries taking writers seriously. To be asked by BrewDog, a company that is interested having the best people in the business, speaks volumes about your standing in the beer writing community.

    Dead proud and that.

    Something in my eye.


  6. Phil Harmonic
    October 27, 2014

    Congrats. Their copy has needed a kick up the arse for a while, and I can’t think of a better solution.

  7. Iain Couper
    October 27, 2014


    Your blogs have been of great benefit to the burgeoning microbrewery scene here in Scotland. I always look forward to your articles. Good luck to you mate.

    Iain Couper

  8. Yvan
    October 27, 2014

    Fantastic! Congratulations & good luck.

  9. Richard
    October 27, 2014

    Wow, thank you so much for the comments. That means a huge amount to me. Can’t wait to get started! Oh, and Pat – that’s not a bad idea! 😉

  10. Rob Derbyshire
    October 27, 2014

    Well done Rich, I think its safe to say the creation of such a great beer like Dead Metaphor was the key to winning over Brewdog.

  11. Richard
    October 27, 2014

    I shall mention Dead Metaphor in everything I write for them, Rob 😉

  12. steve
    October 27, 2014

    good work Rich, you must be proper excited! Will you mostly be based at home or have you a commute to look forward to each day? Best of luck!

  13. Richard
    October 27, 2014

    I’ll be splitting my time between working in Ellon and working at home, Steve. Looking forward to the commute-time for the second of those options!

  14. Chris Routledge
    October 27, 2014

    Well done and congratulations, this is great news.

  15. steve
    October 27, 2014

    I guess the train will give you some quieter thinking/writing/supping time too 🙂

  16. Anthony Valenti
    October 27, 2014

    Well done Rich!

  17. Allan McLean
    October 28, 2014

    Well done! All the best!

  18. Zak
    October 28, 2014

    Living the dream, baby!

  19. Peter Chňupa
    October 29, 2014

    I read your blogs since may of this year, and I have to say I love them.

    Enter very nice blogs from Brewdog. I was quite surprised to see sanity in them for a change 😀 And enjoyed them very much.

    Knowing that they come from you came as a surprise, but probably should not 😀 There are a lot of beer bloggers, but as with everything, only a few that do it very well.

    Keep up the good work 😉 And if you ever find yourself in Slovakia, surely let me know.

  20. Martin
    October 29, 2014

    Life is too short for jobs (and beers) you don’t love. Nice to hear you’re moving to do something you really have a passion for.


  21. The Good Stuff: What’s Next | The Good Stuff
    November 3, 2014

    […] So – it’s not an end, but perhaps a new beginning. I’m looking forward to the next chapter, and I hope you guys are too. After all, it was you guys who made TGS what it became, and kept reading. Let’s see what happens next, shall we? Oh and I’m not the only one at it; BeerCast’s Richard Taylor has gone through a similar (in fact, spookily similar, right down the amount of years spent working and month changing career) journey this Autumn, and you can read about his new role here. […]

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